Here’s the latest on travel to and from the UK, including quarantine requirements, testing, and changes to the government’s rules for overseas destinations.
We’ll update this page with news and information as we get it, so please scroll down for further details of what’s been happening across the travel sector in recent weeks, including changes to the rules for inbound travellers to the United States from 8 November.
Check here for a comprehensive explanation of the rules for those entering the UK
Ireland To Introduce Negative Test Requirement For All Travellers
The Irish government has announced that, from Friday 3 December 2021, all arrivals aged 12 and over who are fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 must provide either of the following:
- A negative or not detected antigen test (taken within 48 hours before arrival)
- A negative or not detected RT-PCR test (taken within 72 hours before arrival).
The test result must be certified and not self-administered.
Those who are not fully vaccinated or recovered must show a negative or not detected RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours before their arrival.
At the moment, Ireland does not require travellers with documentary evidence of full vaccination or recovery from infection to produce negative test results. The new requirement extends to UK citizens.
Everyone arriving in Ireland must complete a Passenger Locator Form before boarding a flight or taking a boat to Ireland. Travellers must also have one of the following when they arrive in Ireland:
- An EU Digital COVID Certificate that shows you are fully vaccinated with an EMA approved vaccine, or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 180 days
- Other acceptable proof that you have been fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine, or you have recovered from COVID-19
- Proof of a negative RT-PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before your arrival.
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Red List Now 10 Countries, Day 2 PCR Tests For All, Spain Bars Unvaxed
The UK government’s coronavirus Red list now has 10 countries: South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia, which were added to the list on Thursday 25 November, and Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola – which were added on Saturday 27 November.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office is advising against all but essential travel to the countries on the Red list. Anyone who travels against such advice is likely to invalidate their travel insurance.
Non-UK residents will not be allowed to enter the country if they have previously been in the listed countries in the past 10 days.
UK and Irish residents returning to the UK from Red list countries are required to stay in government-approved quarantine accommodation at their own expense for 10 days/11 nights.
The cost of stays in a quarantine ‘hotel’ is:
- 10 days (11 nights) for one adult: £2,285
- Additional adult (or child over 11): £1,430
- Children aged five to 11 £325.
Other measures are in force from 4am on Tuesday 30 November:
- all international arrivals must self-isolate until they receive a negative result from a PCR test taken before or on Day 2 of their return, regardless of their vaccination status. A negative result brings the requirement to self-isolate to an end. A positive results brings a requirement to self-isolate for 10 days. Tests should be booked prior to return to the UK, with the confirmation code included on your Passenger Locator For. you can go here for a list of approved providers.
- all contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status. They will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
- face coverings are compulsory in England in shops, banks, post offices and other premises such as hairdressers and salons, as well as on public transport, bringing England nearer to the rules already in force in Wales and to those in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where it is a requirement to wear a mask in pubs and restaurants unless seated. Hospitality settings in England and Wales are exempt from the requirement.
- The Spanish government has announced that, from 1 December, tourist arrivals to Spain from the UK (excluding children under the age of 12 years old) must present proof of vaccination. Previously, all that was required was proof of a negative test and the completion of a passenger locator form. The move does not affect UK citizens with residency rights in Spain, of whom there are an estimated 300,000.
- Switzerland has also said that UK citizens must have proof of vaccination and proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, which can be a PCR or antigen test, to enter the country. On entry, you must also self-quarantine for 10 days. Those arriving from UK who wish to transit to another country will need to self-quarantine in Switzerland for 10 days.
- Israel has introduced a ban foreign travellers from entering the country from midnight on Sunday 28 November due to Omicron fears. The ban is due to last 14 days.
- Japan has announced that, from 30 November 2021, foreign nationals (including British nationals) who do not have existing resident status are not permitted to enter Japan for any purpose, other than in exceptional circumstances, even if they hold a visa. The ‘exceptional circumstances’ are when someone is deemed to be contributing to the public good or has humanitarian reasons for visiting the country. More information is available on Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
You can visit the government travel advice website for further information.
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25 November: Red List Back In Spotlight As Six Countries Added
The UK government’s red list of countries deemed high risk because of Covid-19 has risen from zero to six with the addition of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia from noon on Friday 26 November.
The emergence of the recently identified Omicron variant of the coronavirus has prompted drastic action.
British nationals arriving from the six named countries between mid-day today, Friday 26 November and 4am on Sunday 28 November who have been in these countries within the last 10 days must quarantine at home for 10 days and take NHS PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8, even if they already have a lateral flow test booking.
Passengers arriving from these countries in England from 4am on Sunday 28 November who have been in these countries within the last 10 days will be required to book and pay for a government-approved hotel quarantine facility for 10 days (see stories below for costs).
They must also take NHS PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 of their return, even if they already have a lateral flow test booking.
Direct flights from the six countries will be banned from mid-day on Friday 26 November until sufficient hotel quarantine accommodation is available from 4am Sunday 28 November. The number of quarantine hotel places was reduced earlier this month when the number of countries on the red list of countries was reduced to zero.
From mid-day on Friday 26 November, non-UK and Irish residents who have been in these countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England. This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through any of these countries while changing flights.
A temporary ban on commercial and private planes travelling from the six countries will also come into force at mid-day on Friday until 4am on Sunday to reduce the risk of importing the new variant under investigation while hotel quarantine is brought up to the required capacity. This excludes cargo and freight without passengers.
The UK government says the additions to the red list are a precautionary move following the designation of a new coronavirus variant which is under investigation by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
In a tweet on Thursday 25 November, British Airways said: “We are aware of news from the Government about a ban on UK flights to South Africa. We will be contacting affected customers and colleagues in and will update our website with the latest information.”
Anyone with flights booked to or from the Red list countries should contact their airline or tour operator for information on what will happen to their arrangements. You should wait for the airline to cancel the flight rather than cancel it yourself.
If the airline cancels a flight it is required to refund the purchase price or offer you are replacement flight. You do not have to accept vouchers. If the flight goes ahead as scheduled but you do not wish to travel, you will have to discuss your options with the airline.
If you have travel insurance you should check the policy document to see what cover is provided in relation to claims arising out of Covid-19. If you are already in one of the countries listed, you may be able to claim for out-of-pocket expenses incurred because you are obliged to stay for longer than planned.
However, because the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) is warning against all but essential travel to these six nations, you are unlikely to be able to claim for the cost of cancellation of future arrangements as most policies specifically exclude this scenario.
Additionally, if you travel to a country against FCDO advice, your policy will likely be rendered invalid and you will not be able to claim for any other reason.
If you have bookings for accommodation or other services, such as hire car, you will need to contact them for information about their cancellation policies.
25 November: New Zealand To Open Borders In Stages Next Year
New Zealand has given details of its next steps for reopening its borders to fully Covid-19 vaccinated tourists and more of its citizens abroad next year.
From 11.59pm on 30 April 2022, New Zealand will open its borders to fully-vaccinated foreign nationals, including Brits. The exact date Brits will be able to enter the country is yet to be confirmed as the re-opening will be phased, possibly by visa category.
The current requirement to enter managed isolation and quarantine will be removed in stages for most travellers but even after 30 April, they will still be required to:
- take a pre-departure test before travelling to New Zealand
- show proof of being fully vaccinated
- make a passenger declaration about travel history
- take a test on arrival
- self-isolate for seven days
- take a final negative test before entering the community.
The move to allow entry to vaccinated tourists will follow:
- the reopening of the borders to fully-vaccinated New Zealand citizens and eligible travellers who have been in either Australia or New Zealand in the previous 14 days from 11.59pm on 16 January 2022
- the reopening of the borders to fully-vaccinated New Zealand citizens and eligible travellers from territories except those classified as ‘very high risk’ from 11.59pm on 16 January 2022.
New Zealand will remove the ‘very high risk’ category from Brazil, Fiji, India, Indonesia and Pakistan in December 2021. Papua New Guinea will remain on the ‘very high risk’ list.
Eligible travellers include:
- New Zealand permanent residents or resident visa holders
- Australian citizens or permanent residence visa holders where New Zealand is your primary place of established residence
- holders of a critical purpose visa.
New Zealand citizens will not need to enter managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) but will be required to self-isolate for seven days.
Critical purpose reasons to travel include if a traveller is the partner of a New Zealand citizen or resident and is an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
Currently, travellers are not allowed into the country, except under exceptional circumstances.
The stringent entry restrictions on New Zealand’s borders were put in place in March 2020 to curb the spread of Covid-19. It has reported relatively few cases of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there have been 10,241 cases of Covid-19 in the country and 40 deaths due to the virus.
You can visit the New Zealand government website for more information.
22 November: Australia To Ease Travel Restrictions From December
Restrictions on travel to Australia will be eased next month, meaning some Brits will be able to visit the country for the first time since March 2020.
From Wednesday 1 December, Australia will relax the restrictions on its borders, allowing eligible visa-holders who are skilled workers, students, humanitarians, those on working holidays and provisional visa holders to enter the country.
Can I travel to Australia?
From next week, travellers in the above categories will be able to enter Australia if they:
- are fully-vaccinated with a vaccine approved or recognised by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
- hold a valid visa for one of the eligible subclasses
- provide proof of their vaccination status
- take a Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours of their departure.
Travellers will also need to ensure they comply with the quarantine requirements in their destination state or territory.
Australia will also relax its quarantine restrictions for more travellers on 1 December.
Fully-vaccinated tourists from Japan and the Republic of Korea who hold a valid Australian visa will be able to travel to the country, without the need to seek a travel exemption or quarantine.
They will join tourists from New Zealand and Singapore, who have been travelling quarantine-free to Australia since 1 November and 21 November respectively.
Next month’s changes also follow moves on 1 November, which saw fully-vaccinated Australians, permanent residents and their family members allowed to re-enter the country.
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19 November: New Destinations Unlocked For Triple-Jabbed
Triple-jabbed travellers will be able to visit more countries following an update to the NHS app today, 19 November.
The NHS COVID Pass can now be used to demonstrate that you’ve had your third ‘booster’ dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, opening up the possibility of travel to countries such as Israel, Croatia and Austria that insist visitors are more recently vaccinated.
Croatia, for example, asks visitors for proof of vaccination within the last 365 days. For UK travellers fully vaccinated more than a year ago, this made travel to the country impossible. With the addition of booster jab records to the NHS app, however, travellers will now be able to meet Croatia and other countries’ requirements.
Booster jabs will show in the digital COVID Pass automatically from midday today for people in England and from 29 November for people in Wales.
The UK has delivered more than 13 million booster jabs to eligible, double-jabbed people so far, and the government is now moving forward with booster jabs for those aged 40-49-years-old.
Sajid Javid, health and social care secretary, said: “This update to the NHS COVID Pass will mean people can have their complete medical picture at their fingertips if they are going on holiday or seeing loved ones overseas.”
Many countries also ask for recent negative PCR tests along with proof of vaccination status. You can check specific countries’ requirements on the government’s travel advice pages.
You can find out more about the NHS app here, including how to download it.
18 November: Red List Review – No Countries Added, List Remains Empty
In a tweet posted today, Grant Shapps MP, secretary of state for transport, said that the government has reviewed its Red List of locations deemed at high risk of Covid-19 transmission and decided not to add any countries or territories to the list.
On 1 November, the number of countries on the Red List fell to zero, but the list is reviewed regularly, and the government says countries will be added if necessary.
Mr Shapps’ tweet added: “We will continue to keep all measures under review.”
Travellers arriving in the UK from a red list country face the severest restrictions, including the requirement to stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel, at their own expense, for 10 nights (see stories below for details). This applies even to those who are vaccinated against coronavirus.
As of Monday 22 November, over 30 countries will be added to the government’s inbound vaccination policy, meaning travellers with approved vaccines from those countries will be on the same footing at those with domestic NHS vaccinations.
9 November: Vaccines list to widen, under-18s travel rules to ease
The UK government has announced that, from 4am on Monday 22 November, it will recognise vaccines on the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL).
The move means the Sinovac, Sinopharm Beijing and Covaxin vaccines will be added to its list of approved vaccines for inbound travel to the UK. The government says this will be of particular benefit to people travelling from countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and India.
The approved vaccines list currently includes Pfizer BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca (including Covishield), Moderna and Janssen (J&J).
The US, which reopened its borders to fully-vaccinated, negative-tested air passengers yesterday (see story below) also recognises the vaccines on the WHO EU listing for inbound travel, as do other countries such as Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Iceland.
Passengers arriving in the UK who have been fully vaccinated and have received their vaccine certificate from one of over 135 approved countries and territories are no longer required to take a pre-departure test, a day 8 test or self-isolate upon arrival.
The only remaining requirement is that they will need to take a pre-booked lateral flow test from an approved provider before the end of Day 2 of their arrival. Standard NHS tests are not accepted for this purpose. If this test is positive, they will be offered a free confirmatory PCR test.
Additionally, the UK government has said that, from 22 November, all under-18s travelling to England will be treated as fully vaccinated at the border and will be exempt from self-isolation requirements on arrival, day 8 testing and pre-departure testing. They will only be required to take a post-arrival test and a confirmatory free PCR test if they test positive.
Public health across the UK is a devolved matter, but the UK government works closely with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on any changes to international travel and aims to ensure a whole UK approach.
For details of any different rules in the other UK nations, see the links below:
8 November: US welcomes fully-vaxed UK fliers from today
Air travel to the United States from the UK and over 30 other countries is permissible from today following the lifting of the 600-day ban on the majority of international arrivals, imposed by former President Trump in a bid to reduce the impact of coronavirus.
Travellers aged 18 and over must, with only limited exceptions, be fully vaccinated and must have evidence either of a negative Covid-19 test taken in the days before their flight or of recovery from Covid-19.
Evidence of vaccination includes the NHS COVID Pass and the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
A period of 14 days must have passed since the last dose of vaccine was administered. For example, if your last dose was any time on 1 November, then 15 November. would be the first day that you meet the 14-day requirement.
Travellers are also being urged to take a further test after they arrive in the US, between days three and five of their arrival.
In addition, travellers must wear a mask over their nose and mouth while on a plane and inside US airports.
In terms of testing, the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention said: “Effective November 8, 2021 at 12:01am EST (5:01am GMT), before boarding a flight to the US from a foreign country, all air passengers – 2 years or older – are required to present a negative COVID-19 viral test result, within a time period based on their vaccination status (see table below), or present documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days.”
Fully-vaccinated travellers can submit a negative test taken within three days of their flight, while unvaccinated travellers must take their test within one day of travelling.
Lateral flow viral tests and PCR tests are both deemed acceptable.
Airlines must refuse to board anyone who does not present a negative test result for COVID-19 or documentation of recovery.
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1 November: UK government suspends red list from today
The remaining seven countries on the UK government’s red list of high-risk coronavirus nations and territories – Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela – were removed from the list today, Monday 1 November, at 4am.
However, the red list system itself has not been abolished. Grant Shapps, transport secretary, confirmed on Friday that it can be reinstated at any point if a country’s Covid situation warrants it: “We will keep the red list category in place as a precautionary measure to protect public health and we are prepared to add countries and territories back if needed, as the UK’s first line of defence (against coronavirus).”
The red list will now be reviewed every three weeks.
The suspension of the list means at least some of the government’s network of approved quarantine hotels will remain on standby in case travellers are required to enter strict isolation at some point.
When a country is on the red list, returning travellers are required to stay in such a facility, at their own expense, for 10 days/11 nights (see story below for costs).
Also from Monday 1 November, over 30 new countries and territories, including Argentina, Tanzania, Cambodia, Peru and Uganda, have been added to the UK government’s inbound vaccination policy, which means travellers with approved vaccines from those countries are now on the same footing at those with domestic NHS vaccinations.
This move brings the total number of countries on this list to over 135. You can find the full list here, along with examples of the proof you can provide to show you have been fully-vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
Fully-vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK are not required to self-isolate and must only take a Covid test on or before Day 2 of their arrival. From yesterday, travellers arriving into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are able to use a pre-booked lateral flow test on Day 2 – this became possible for travellers to England on 24 October.
Lateral flow tests cost upwards of around £20, with PCR tests costing up to three times that amount. Anyone testing positive on Day 2 will be offered a free confirmatory NHS PCR test.
Non-vaccinated travellers aged 18 and over must take a PCR test in the 72 hours before travelling to the UK and must self-isolate on arrival for 10 days, taking further PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8.
29 October: Rumours suggest UK government will suspend red list
Several news outlets including the BBC are suggesting the UK government will remove the final seven countries from its red list of destinations later today, probably to take effect from Monday 1 November.
Earlier this month, 47 countries were removed from the list, leaving only Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela still deemed to be unsafe because of rates of coronavirus (see stories below).
The current rules means that anyone returning from a red list country must stay in a government-approved quarantine facility for 10 days/11 nights at a cost of £2,285 for an adult, with each additional adult (or child over 11) paying £1,430 and children aged 5 – 11 costing £325.
The bill includes two Covid-19 tests on Day 2 and Day 8.
It remains unclear whether the government will maintain the red list and the associated quarantine hotel system in case the Covid situation in any country deteriorates in the future.
The UK government sets the rules on international travel for England. The authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will decide their approaches separately.
27 October: Budget cuts domestic Air Passenger Duty but previews ‘ultra long-haul’ rate
Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP used his Budget speech today to announce changes to the UK’s Air Passenger Duty regime from 2023.
The government is aiming to boost air travel within the UK through a 50% cut in domestic Air Passenger Duty (APD), from £13 to £6.50. The rate will apply to all flights between airports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (excluding private jets).
The government says around nine million passengers will pay less APD as a result when the reductions take effect in April 2023.
The government is also introducing a new higher band of APD for ultra-long-haul distance travellers. The international distance bands will from April 2023 be set at 0-2,000 miles, 2,000-5,500 miles and 5,500 miles plus. The rates will be £13, £87 and £91 respectively for economy passengers.
27 October: Thailand extends quarantine-free travel from 1 November
From next Monday (1 November), fully-vaccinated travellers from the UK will be able to enter Thailand without having to quarantine. The move coincides with the country’s peak tourist season, which runs from November to April.
At present, Thailand operates a ‘sandbox’ scheme whereby fully-vaccinated travellers do not have to quarantine after arriving in popular tourist hot-spots such as Phuket, Surat Thani, Phang-Nga and Krabi. But they are then required to stay in these destinations for seven days before being able to travel elsewhere in the country.
As of next week, travellers must show proof of vaccination and produce a negative PCR result obtained within 72 hours prior to departure from the UK.
They must also take a pre-booked Covid-19 PCR test between day 0 and day 1 of their arrival into Thailand. If this result is negative, there are no restrictions on travel within the country.
Travellers must satisfy the following conditions to qualify for quarantine-free entry:
- travel from one of 46 approved countries (including the UK), having been resident there for 21 days or more
- obtain a Certificate of Entry from the Thai government
- provide proof of a negative PCR result taken within 72 hours of departure
- possess a travel insurance policy providing a minimum US $50,000 of cover for the potential treatment of Covid-19 and other medical expenses
- show proof of payment for no less than a one-night stay at approved quarantine facilities (this should cover accommodation, the required PCR test and an Antigen Test Kit for use if you show symptoms of coronavirus)
- show proof of vaccination
- have undergone exit screening
- have the Mor Chana tracking app and wait in your accommodation for your day 0-1 PCR test result. This should be available within the day.
Travellers aged under 12 who are travelling with parents/guardians are exempt from the vaccination requirement, but they must provide proof of a negative PCR result.
You can find more information about travel to Thailand on the UK government website, including advice on all but essential travel to regions because of concerns about security and terrorism.
26 October: US confirms requirements for inbound travellers from 8 November
President Joe Biden has confirmed his country’s approach to restrictions on international travel into the United States from 8 November.
Mr Biden said: “It is in the interests of the United States to move away from the country-by-country restrictions previously applied during the COVID-19 pandemic and to adopt an air travel policy that relies primarily on vaccination to advance the safe resumption of international air travel to the United States.”
Airlines will be required to check the vaccination status of travellers before they board their flight to the US. The entry of unvaccinated non-citizen non-immigrants – those who are visiting the US or otherwise being admitted temporarily – is to be suspended.
This means that, in the majority of cases, unvaccinated travellers will not be allowed to board a plane to the US.
US visitor requirements
Starting on 8 November, non-citizen, non-immigrant air travellers (visitors) to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination status prior to boarding a plane to fly to the US, with only limited exceptions. If satisfactory proof is not forthcoming, they will not be permitted to fly.
Vaccinated travellers will also need to produce a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours prior to departure.
Unvaccinated travellers – limited to US citizens, lawful permanent residents of the US, or exempt unvaccinated foreign nationals – will need to produce a negative Covid test within one day of departure.
Fully vaccinated foreign nationals will also be able to travel across the Canadian and Mexican land borders for non-essential reasons, such as tourism, starting on 8 November.
What about children?
Children under 18 are exempt from the US vaccination requirement for foreign national travellers. This is because of the ineligibility of some younger children for vaccination and the global variability in access to vaccination for eligible older children.
However, children between the ages of 2 and 17 are required to take a pre-departure test.
If traveling with a fully-vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child can test three days prior to departure (consistent with the timeline for fully vaccinated adults).
If an unvaccinated child is traveling alone or with unvaccinated adults, they will have to test within one day of departure.
What are the exemptions for those travelling to the US?
The main exemptions from the vaccination requirements are:
- those who have a medical reason for not taking a vaccine
- those who need to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons (with a US government-issued letter affirming the urgent need to travel)
- those who are traveling on non-tourist visas from countries with low-vaccine availability/
Those who receive an exception will generally be required to comply with applicable public health requirements, including a requirement that they be vaccinated in the US if they intend to stay for more than 60 days.
Anyone unsure of their standing in relation to the new requirements should contact the US embassy for more information.
24 October: Lateral flow option available in England from today
From today, Sunday 24 October, fully-vaccinated travellers arriving in England from a non-red list country are able to submit a lateral flow test to satisfy their Day 2 testing requirement.
The tests – which are significantly cheaper than the previously mandated PCR tests – must be booked online with a government approved supplier.
Lateral flow tests must be taken as soon as possible on the day of arrival in England or at the latest before the end of a passenger’s second day, They can be purchased from as little as £19 via the government website. PCR tests can cost upwards of £60.
Travellers must send a photo of their test result to the private provider. Failure to do so could result in a £1,000 fine. Anyone with a positive result will need to take a free NHS confirmatory PCR test and isolate.
Children under 18 can take a lateral flow test regardless of their vaccine status.
Non vaccinated travellers must continue to take PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 while in self-isolation for 10 days.
23 October: Wales Follows England With Lateral Flow Test Option From 31 October
The devolved administration in Wales has announced that, from 31 October, all fully-vaccinated travellers arriving in Wales will be able to take a lateral flow test instead of the current requirement to take a PCR test. The change to make lateral flow tests permissible in England takes effect on 24 October (see below).
With prices starting at around £30, lateral flow tests are roughly half the price of PCR tests. The lateral flow tests must be booked in advance through approved providers. NHS kit tests will not be accepted in either nation.
No announcement has yet been made by the authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Eluned Morgan, Wales’ health minister, said: “From Sunday 31 October all adults in Wales, who have completed their two-dose course of the Covid-19 vaccine, and the majority of under 18s, who have travelled from countries which are not on the red list, will be able to take a lateral flow test, on or before day two of their arrival into the UK.
“If people have a positive lateral flow test on their return from travelling overseas, they will be required to isolate for 10 days and take a follow-up PCR test. People will continue to have the option of booking and taking a PCR test as the required day two test.
“The UK Government will introduce these changes for England on Sunday 24 October. We are unable to introduce the changes at the same time as we have not received sufficient or timely information from the UK Government on how these changes will operate in practice.
“This is not ideal. However, despite the differences for a short period, Welsh residents wishing to travel will be able to do so. The only difference from English residents will be that up until the 31 October Welsh residents will need to continue to book a day 2 PCR test.”
Mr Morgan expressed concern about the UK government’s approach to testing, which dictates the rules in England: “We have consistently urged the UK Government to take a precautionary approach towards reopening international travel. However, it is difficult for us to adopt a different testing regime to that required by the UK Government, as the majority of Welsh travellers enter the UK through ports and airports in England.
“Having different testing requirements would cause significant practical problems, confusion among the travelling public, logistical issues, enforcement at our borders and disadvantages for Welsh businesses.”
He added that decisions about international travel should be taken on a “true four-nation basis. These are decisions which affect people living in all parts of the UK and we cannot make them in isolation of each other.”
22 October: Lateral Flow Tests For Fully-Vaxed Bookable From Today For England
From today, 22 October, fully-vaccinated travellers heading to England from non red list countries can book a lateral flow test to take on or before Day 2 of their arrival. Such tests may be taken from 24 October onwards.
The PCR tests required at present will still be accepted from Sunday, but as they can cost £60 or more and lateral flow tests can cost half that amount, the latter are expected to prove more popular.
Those who are not fully vaccinated, and all those returning from red list countries, must continue to take PCR tests and adhere to other requirements.
Here’s what you need to do when returning to England (note that the requirements for inbound travellers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may differ).
If you are fully-vaccinated, you must – before returning to England – book and pay for a COVID-19 test to be taken before the end of Day 2. You must also complete a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before you arrive in England. You will need to enter your COVID-19 test booking reference number on your passenger locator form.
If your lateral flow test is positive, you must take a PCR test to confirm the result, and you must self-isolate until you get the result. If this is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 full days.
If you booked a PCR test and get a positive result, you will need to self-isolate for 10 days.
If you are not fully-vaccinated, you must, before you travel to England:
After you arrive in England you must:
- quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 full days
- take your COVID-19 PCR tests as outlined above.
If you test positive on your Day 2 or Day 8 test, you must self-isolate for 10 full days.
If you need to quarantine, you may be able to end quarantine early if you pay for a private COVID-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.
Travelling with children
Children of all ages who are resident in the UK, or in a country with an approved proof of vaccination, do not have to quarantine on arrival in England. This applies whether the child is vaccinated or not.
If they are aged 4 and under they do not have to take any COVID-19 travel tests. Those aged 5 to 17 do not have to take a COVID-19 test before travel to England. They must take a test on or before Day 2 and follow the procedures outlined above if this returns a positive result.
20 October: India Opens Doors To Foreign Tourists As Morocco Bans UK Flights
The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is now granting tourist visas to foreign tourists planning to travel chartered flights organised by tour operators. India closed its borders for foreign nationals in March 2020 at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The MHA has also announced that, from 15 November, tourists entering India by flights other than chartered flights – that is, independent travellers on commercial airlines – will be allowed to enter with new tourist visas. It says visas issued before 6 October 2021, will no longer be valid.
Meanwhile, Morocco has announced as ban on direct flights between the UK and Morocco (as well as Germany and the Netherlands), effective from midnight tonight (20 October) for an unspecified period. More details below.
Travellers to India must submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal and upload an authenticated private (not NHS) negative Covid-19 PCR test result, with the test having been taken up to 72 hours before departure to India.
On arrival in India, travellers will need to complete a PCR test in a designated area of the airport. Those returning negative results will be required to remain in quarantine in a private residence for seven days, after which time another test will be administer.
If this result is negative, the visitor will be released from quarantine but will be required to monitor their health for a further seven days.
Anyone returned a positive result will be accommodated in an institutional isolation facility for treatment.
The same rules apply regardless of the individual’s vaccine status.
Travellers returning to the UK from India will need to follow the rules applicable in their home nation. India is not on the UK’s travel red list, so fully vaccinated returning travellers will need to:
- complete a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before arrival
- book and pay for a Covid-19 test to be taken before the end of Day 2 (from this Friday, 22 October, you’ll be able to book a lateral follow test instead of a more expensive PCR test. Such tests will be permitted from 24 October).
Those not fully-vaccinated must quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days and take PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8. See stories below for further information.
Note that special visa rules apply to Pakistani nationals or those with dual British-Pakistani nationality. Details are available from the Indian High Commission.
The Moroccan government is suspending direct flights between the UK and Morocco with effect from midnight tonight (20 October). The ban does not currently have an end-date. Flights from Germany and the Netherlands are similarly affected.
The UK government says travellers affected by flight cancellations should contact their airline or tour operator for advice on alternative routes via third countries such as France and Spain, where flights are operating as normal.
Anyone travelling to Morocco via a third country will need to provide:
- proof they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the second dose administered at least two weeks prior to travel, or
- a negative PCR test result before boarding their flight or ferry to Morocco. The result must show that the PCR test itself was undertaken no more than 48 hours before boarding.
- for travel by ferry, travellers will also need to take a COVID-19 test during the journey. Children under the age of 11 are exempt from the PCR testing requirement for entry into Morocco.
On arrival to Morocco, travellers will be asked to present a completed Public Health Passenger form. You can print a copy in advance of travelling.
Travellers transiting through third countries should consult FCDO Travel Advice for that country.
Several thousand UK holidaymakers are thought to be in Morocco. Airlines and tour operators say they will contact customers to discuss whether they want to return immediately or finish their holiday.
It is likely that those with bookings for holidays in Morocco in the coming days and weeks will be offered alternative destinations or refunds.
19 October: Heathrow Passengers Face Steep Climb In Ticket Prices
Travellers flying from London Heathrow airport are facing higher ticket prices after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) proposed allowing the airport to sharply increase the amount it charges airlines for each passenger they carry.
Currently, the charge is £22 per customer, but the CAA says this should rise to between £24.50 and £34.40 for a five-year period starting in summer 2022. It is running a consultation to determine the precise figure.
But it has agreed an interim charge of £30 per passenger from 1 January, which could see a short-term increase of £8 per ticket if carriers pass on the full increase in their ticket prices.
Heathrow Airport Limited asked the CAA to increase the cap on its charges per passenger to between £32 and £43. It also wanted the interim charge to be set at £38 a head. It wants to increase its revenue-raising capability to make up for losses sustained over the past 18 months, when the number of flights plummeted due to travel bans and other restrictions.
Consultations on the interim price cap and the CAA’s wider proposals for the regulation of Heathrow and its longer-term passenger charging structure will run until 17 November and 17 December 2021 respectively.
Richard Moriarty, head of the CAA, said a balance had to be struck between protecting consumers from unfair charges and allowing Heathrow to generate revenuet: “Our principal objective is to further the interests of consumers while recognising the challenges the industry has faced throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These initial proposals seek to protect consumers against unfair charges, and will allow Heathrow to continue to appropriately invest in keeping the airport resilient, efficient and one that provides a good experience for passengers.”
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15 October: US To Open Borders To Fully Vaccinated UK Travellers From 8 November
A spokesperson for the United States government has confirmed that UK nationals will be able to fly to the US from Monday 8 November 2021.
In a tweet on Friday, the assistant press secretary said:
“The US’ new travel policy that requires vaccination for foreign national travelers to the United States will begin on Nov 8. This announcement and date applies to both international air travel and land travel. This policy is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent.”
The current US ban on UK travellers also applies to EU countries and several other nations including China, India and Brazil.
In addition to being fully vaccinated, UK travellers to the US will need to have evidence of a negative test taken in the 72 hours prior to departure, and they will be required to provide contact details in case they need to be traced while in the country.
Tough rules on the wearing of masks during the flight will also be imposed.
It is expected that exemptions may be made to allow unvaccinated children to enter the US with their families.
15 October: Govt Gives Green Light To Cheaper Lateral Flow Tests In Time For Half-Term
The government has announced that, from 24 October 2021, fully vaccinated passengers and most under-18s arriving in England from countries not on the international travel red list can take a lateral flow test, instead of a more expensive PCR test, on or before Day 2 of their arrival into the UK.
The timings mean families returning from school half-term breaks will be able to take advantage of cheaper tests. The tests must be booked through private providers listed on gov.uk – the use of free NHS lateral flow tests will not be accepted for international travellers.
Bookings can be made from 22 October. We’ll update any changes applicable to the rest of the UK when details are announced.
PCR tests can cost upwards of £60-£70 per person, adding significantly to a family’s travel expenses. The bookable lateral flow tests are expected to be priced at nearer £25-£30 each.
Passengers will need to upload a photograph of their test to verify results as soon as possible. If any tests are returned positive, the individual will be offered a free confirmatory NHS PCR test.
It will also be possible to book a test to be taken on arrival into the UK at testing centres located in some airports.
All travellers must complete a Passenger Locator Form prior to travel back to the UK, including a test booking reference number supplied by a testing provider. Travellers will be able to upload their test booking reference to the Passenger Locator Form from 22 October for arrival in the UK from 24 October.
Passengers who are not fully vaccinated with an authorised vaccine returning from a non-red list destination will still need to take a pre-departure test, a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 and complete 10 days self-isolation (with the option of Test to Release on day 5).
Nick Markham of Cignpost Diagnostics says Day 2 lateral flow tests should be carried out in the most robust and secure way possible: “Now that the government has moved to validate results through a photo identification process, we must ensure these are not open to fraudulent submissions. People travelling from abroad must take their test and report their result if positive or negative so we can ensure that every positive lateral flow result is captured and sequenced to any new variants using a follow-up PCR test.
“Our data shows 4 in every 1,000 fully-vaccinated people are testing positive after they arrive in the UK. With no pre-departure tests now required, the number of positive cases among arrivals is set to rise. That’s why it is essential that these (Day 2) tests are undertaken correctly, so individuals who are positive are tracked and asked to isolate. Only this will help to mitigate spread and prevent new variants coming into the country.”
Holidaymakers urged to check destination testing regimes
The reduction in the number of countries on the UK government’s Covid-19 travel red list to seven, which became effective on Monday 11 October (see story below) has opened up the international travel market for UK holidaymakers.
But would-be travellers are being urged to check the Covid testing requirements for their destinations as mistakes and omissions could lead to problems when they try to fly.
Testing requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers to popular destinations
- Abu Dhabi negative PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to travel, plus a PCR test on arrival
- Barbados negative PCR test taken within three days prior to travel
- Brazil negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel, or negative lateral flow test within 24 hours of travel
- Canary Islands no restrictions
- Cape Verde no restrictions
- Costa Rica no restrictions
- Cuba negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel, followed by a PCR test on arrival
- Dubai negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel
- Egypt no restrictions
- Goa regular scheduled flights are currently suspended
- Indonesia no restrictions
- Maldives negative PCR test taken within 96 hours prior to arrival
- Mexico no restrictions
- Morocco no restrictions
- St Lucia negative PCR test taken five days or less before travel
- Seychelles negative PCR test taken 72 hours or less before travel
- South Africa negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel
- Thailand negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel
- Trinidad & Tobago negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel.
Source: Cignpost ExpressTest
Christian Corney of Cignpost ExpressTest, which runs testing sites at airports and city centre locations in the UK, says winter sun travellers need to book the right tests at the right time: “With COVID testing requirements being lifted for travellers coming into the UK, it’s easy to think that the same process is happening across the world.
“But many countries, especially long-haul destinations, have their own testing requirements, and holidaymakers need to plan carefully to make sure they have booked the correct tests and can get results back before they fly. Without proof of the right negative test taken at the right time, travellers will not be allowed to board the plane.”
Mr Corney cites the example of double-jabbed passengers heading to the Maldives needing to take a negative PCR within 96 hours of embarking on their outbound flight, but travellers to Thailand, South Africa and the Seychelles having to complete the same test within 72 hours prior to departure.
Similarly, entry requirements vary within Latin America. Mexico and Costa Rica do not ask for any test results, but Brazil requires a negative PCR taken within 72 hours of arrival, or a lateral flow test taken no more than 24 hours before travel.
In the Caribbean, St Lucia requires arrivals to have a negative PCR test taken within five days of their outbound flight, while Barbados sets the time limit at three days.
And fully-vaccinated travellers heading to Dubai must produce a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their flight, but travellers choosing Abu Dhabi must complete their test up to 48 hours before their departure.
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Red List Falls To Seven, Vax Recognition Extended
The UK government’s Covid-19 red list has been cut to seven destinations from today (Monday 11 October). All other countries and territories will fall into the ‘rest of the world’ classification.
The seven locations remaining on the red list are:
- Dominican Republic.
Travellers returning to England from red list countries are required to spend 10 days/11 nights in a government-sanctioned quarantine hotel. For details of the costs and associated testing requirements, see story below.
Announcing the change, Grant Shapps MP, transport secretary, added: “I’m making changes so travellers visiting England have fewer entry requirements, by recognising those with fully-vax status from 37 new countries and territories including India, Turkey and Ghana, treating them the same as UK fully-vax passengers.”
You can find a full list of countries with approved vaccines and proof of vaccination here.
Last week, the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office announced that it has lifted its advice against all but essential travel for 32 countries and territories.
The FCDO says it will no longer advise against travel to non-red list countries on COVID-19 grounds, except in exceptional circumstances such as if the local healthcare system is overwhelmed.
This is being viewed as another positive step because most travel insurance policies are invalid in countries where FCDO advice against travel is in place. It will also eliminate any conflicts between the red list and the FCDO advice list. For example, when the Maldives was removed from the red list last month, it temporarily remained on the FCDO list.
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New UK Travel Regime Takes Effect
From 4am today (Monday 4 October 2021), the UK’s new travel system comes into force, with countries and territories categorised as either ‘red’ or ‘rest of the world’.
The previous traffic light system of red, amber and green as been removed. At present there are over 50 countries on the UK government red list, but this number is expected to fall sharply later this week when a revised list is published.
There has been speculation in the media that the number could fall below 10 when an announcement is made, possibly on Thursday.
Travel restrictions and requirements on those entering the UK from non red list countries will now largely be determined by the individual’s vaccination status.
For travellers to England, the new regime enables eligible fully vaccinated passengers (those with NHS vaccines and vaccines from countries with approved vaccination programmes) and eligible under-18s to return from non red list countries without needing to complete a pre-departure test (PDT) or a Day 8 test, or to enter a 10-day self-isolation period.
From later in October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers with an approved vaccine and recognised certificate from a country not on the red list will also be able to replace their Day 2 test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.
The government says it wants to have this in place for when people return from school half-term breaks.
Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.
Travellers returning from a non red list country who are not fully vaccinated must take a pre-departure Covid-19 test in the three days before travelling to England.
They must also self isolate for 10 days (with the option to Test to Release on Day 5) and take Covid-19 tests on Day 2 and Day 8.
Red list country requirements
As far as red list countries are concerned, only UK or Irish nationals, or those with residency rights in the UK, will be able to enter the UK. They will be required, regardless of vaccination status, to:
- take a pre-departure Covid-19 test – to be taken in the three days before travel
- after arrival, quarantine in a managed hotel and take the required two Covid-19 tests on Day 2 and Day 8.
All arrivals from any overseas destination will still need to fill in a passenger locator form ahead of travel to the UK.
Grant Shapps MP, transport secretary, said the UK is expanding its recognised vaccination policy to a further 18 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Canada. The recognised vaccines are Pfizer BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca (including Covidshield), Moderna and Janssen (J&J).
This brings the total number of countries in scope of the policy to over 50. The government says more countries and territories will be added in the coming weeks.
Fully vaccinated residents in other countries not yet part of the inbound policy, as well as those partially vaccinated, will still have to take a pre-departure test, PCR tests for day 2 and day 8 after arrival, and self-isolate for 10 days, with the option to test to release after 5 days.
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22 September: Eight Countries Come Off Red List Of High-Risk Nations
Today (Weds 22 September) sees eight countries removed from the UK’s red list of destinations deemed high risk because of their Covid-19 status. These countries will now be on the amber list.
The move, announced last Friday by Grant Shapps MP, transport secretary, means travellers returning to England from Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya will no longer need to stay in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days (11 nights).
The change took effect this morning at 4am.
Previously, returning travellers from these countries faced huge bills for a hotel package, which includes two Covid-19 tests on Day 2 and Day 8. The cost for an adult is £2,285 with additional adult (or child over 11) paying £1,430 and children aged 5 – 11 costing £325.
This was an effective deterrent for travel to popular holiday destinations such as Egypt and Turkey, and the change may result in an increase in trips this autumn, particular during half-term in October.
Travellers returning from amber list countries do not need to self-isolate at home if they have been fully vaccinated, although they must take a Covid test prior to departure and on day two of their return.
In addition to self-isolating for 10 days non-vaccinated travellers returning from an amber list country must take the above tests and a test on Day 8 of their return.
Anyone booking a foreign holiday should arrange their travel insurance as soon as possible to benefit from the cancellation element of their policy.
There are still over 50 countries on the UK government red list, and the requirement for quarantine in a managed facility remains in force for those returning to the UK from these destinations.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) maintains a separate list of countries where it advises against travel to particular destinations. As of 22 September, it is still advising against travel to the Maldives. This is significant because travelling against FCDO advice will usually invalidate travel insurance – even if the country concerned is not on the Department of Transport’s red list.
We await any further clarification on this apparent contradiction in the positions of the two departments.
Mr Shapps has also announced an overhaul of the government’s traffic light system, due to take effect on 4 October. See story below.
Additionally, he has tweeted today that the UK will be accepting UAE vaccination certificates from 4 October following updates to its vaccination app. He said: “As a major transport hub which is home to many British expats, this is great news for reopening international travel, boosting business & reuniting families.”
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20 September 2011: Families Give Thanks As US Reopens For International Travel In November
The United States will welcome UK and other foreign nationals who fly into the country from ‘early November’ – provided they have been fully vaccinated.
Restrictions will remain across the country’s land borders with Mexico and Canada.
The US has restricted entry to most foreign travellers since early 2020, but the latest move opens the prospect of family reunions in time for Thanksgiving on 25 November, as well as the holiday season in December.
Speaking in the House of Commons earlier today, Grants Shapps MP, transport secretary, said: “I can announce to the House today that vaccinated Brits will be allowed into the US from early November, reciprocating the policy we introduced this summer”
This included a pilot scheme whereby passengers who were fully vaccinated in the UK, in Europe and the US were allowed to travel to the UK from amber list countries (including the US) without the need to self-isolate or take a day 8 test after entry to the UK.
Mr Shapps added: “This is a testament to the hard work and progress made by the Expert Working Group, set up after the G7 summit, to restart transatlantic travel, the flagship route of international aviation.”
Anyone planning a trip to the US can get prices for travel insurance here.
The US Centers for Disease Control is expected to confirm shortly which vaccines will be recognised, as well as the precise date on which foreign visitors who have been satisfactorily vaccinated will be able to travel to the US. More details to follow when we have them.
20 September 2021: Govt Travel Rules Overhaul Sees Traffic Light System End On 4 October
In a series of tweets on Friday, Grant Shapps MP, transport secretary, announced changes to the rules governing international travel into the England for British citizens. These will see an end to pre-departure tests for fully-vaccinated travellers.
Those arriving in other UK nations will need to follow the rules issued by the respective devolved authorities (details will follow when we have them).
From 4 October, the government will maintain a red list of high-risk countries and move the rest of the world onto a single footing.
Mr Shapps tweeted: “From Monday 4 October, if you’re fully vaccinated, you won’t need a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non-red country and, from later in October, you will be able to replace the PCR test taken on Day 2 of your return with a cheaper lateral flow test.”
PCR tests can cost upwards of £70, while lateral flow tests cost around £30 per person – a still-significant amount, especially for families.
The government wants to have this system in place in time for holidaymakers returning after the upcoming school half-term break.
All passengers will still need to fill in a passenger locator form ahead of travel. Visit here to see the current requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers from green, amber and red countries.
Unvaccinated passengers returning from non-red countries from 4 October will still need to take pre-departure tests, Day 2 and Day 8 PCR tests during a 10-day period of self-isolation. Test to release on Day 5 remains an option to reduce the self-isolation period.
Mr Shapps also announced changes to the current red list, removing eight countries (Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya). The changes will take effect on Wednesday (22 September) at 4am.
A greater number of countries had been expected by some to come off the red list, but the removal from it of popular holiday destinations such as Turkey, the Maldives and Egypt will be welcomed ahead of school half-term.
Anyone with plans to travel in the coming weeks should make sure they have appropriate travel insurance for their chosen destination.
Signalling the dismantling of the often-controversial traffic light system of grading countries according to their perceived Covid risk, Mr Shapps tweeted: “We’ll also be introducing a new simplified system for international travel from Monday 4 October, replacing the current approach with a single red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world – striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority.”
From 4 October, the government is also extending the list of countries whose vaccination programmes will be seen as being on a par with that of the UK, meaning vaccinated travellers will not need a pre-departure test or a Day 8 test once in England, and they will not be required to self-isolate.
The 17 countries and territories include Japan and Singapore. See here for the full list of countries.
Wales to introduce vaccine passports in October
People in Wales will have to prove they’re either double vaccinated or don’t have Covid-19 in order to visit nightclubs and events from next month.
Mark Drakeford, Wales’ First Minister, made the announcement today, 17 September, citing rising Covid-19 case numbers over the summer. The new measures come into force from 1 October 1.
From that point, admission to the following events will require either a negative lateral flow test result from a test taken 48 hours prior to the event, or an NHS Covid Pass to prove you’ve had two doses of the vaccine:
- Indoor standing events for more than 500 people
- Outdoor standing events for more than 4,000 people
- Any event with more than 10,000 people
Double-vaccinated people can get an NHS Covid Pass via its dedicated app, or by visiting the Covid status website.
Govt to announce travel rules changes today
The government will set out changes to the coronavirus travel regime later today, it has been confirmed.
Grants Shapps MP, transport secretary, has tweeted: “I’ll set out measures to simplify international travel later today in order to reduce costs, take advantage of higher levels of vaccination, and keep us all safe.”
There is speculation that the amber level of the traffic light traffic regime might be removed, with countries designated either green or red. This may mean we see an end to the need for fully vaccinated travellers to take Covid-19 tests before departure for the UK and after arrival from a wider range of countries.
We’ll update with more information when we get it.
UPDATE 10 SEPTEMBER 2021 – Speculation mounts over future of traffic light scheme
According to media reports, the government may announce structural changes to its travel traffic light system as early as the middle of next week.
The system, which ranks countries as green, amber or red based on their incidence of Covid-19, has always been scheduled for review by 1 October. Assessing its continued merits ahead of this date would hopefully provide clarity about international travel opportunities, particularly testing and quarantine requirements.
Under the current regime, travellers returning to the UK from green list countries, and fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber list countries, are not required to enter quarantine, although they are required to take Covid-19 tests before setting off for the UK and on day two of their return. If a test returns a positive result, self-isolation is required.
Travel industry leaders say the cost of tests is deterring many people from booking holidays abroad. They hope any overhaul of the traffic light system would remove the need for testing if the destination country had a vaccination record on a par with that of the UK.
According to the BBC, the red list of countries where the government advises against travel in all but the most extreme circumstances, will be retained.
The government has commented to the effect that the system will be reviewed by 1 October, as planned.
UPDATE 26 AUGUST 2021 – Canada Among Seven Countries To Join Green List, Thailand to Red
At 4am on Monday 30 August 2021, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Switzerland and the Azores were added to the UK government’s green traffic-light travel list.
This means travellers returning to the UK from these locations will not need to quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status, unless they return a positive coronavirus test result on day 2 of their return. They will also need to take a test before their return flight and complete a passenger locater form.
If they test positive while still abroad, the government says they should not travel and should instead follow local protocols.
As of the same time and date, Thailand and Montenegro were added to the official red list. Passengers arriving in the UK from red list destinations need to isolate for 10 days in a managed quarantine facility and follow the necessary testing requirements.
The costs of staying in a quarantine ‘hotel’ can be found below, along with details of other requirements for traveller from various destinations.
UPDATE 8 AUGUST 2021 – Quarantine Rules Eased For France, European Countries Move to Green List
- Changes open up France for summer holidays
- Cost of quarantine hotels hiked from 12 August
France has moved from amber plus to amber status on the government’s traffic light list for international travel, following changes that came into force at 4am. This means travellers who have received both doses of the NHS Covid vaccine returning to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from France will no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days.
The authorities in Wales have yet to announce their decision on the matter.
Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway have also moved from amber to the green list.
India, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have moved from the red to the amber list, removing the need for double NHS-jabbed travellers to enter a government quarantine hotel for 10 days. Georgia, Mexico, La Reunion and Mayotte have been added to the red list.
Travellers from the UK to all destinations across the traffic light list are being urged to check the conditions and restrictions that may apply to those entering the country they are planning to visit.
The government is advising travellers returning from Spain, which is on the amber list, to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible. At the moment, the requirement allows returning travellers to take a lateral flow test, which is less expensive and returns faster results.
Hotel quarantine costs to increase
The government has also announced steep increases to the cost of staying in a quarantine hotel from 12 August onwards. This will affect those returning from red list countries.
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UPDATE 28 July 2021 – EU & US Double-Jabbed Travellers Get Green Light To Visit England
- Government eases restrictions to remove self-isolation requirement
- UK residents still face restrictions on entering US
- Travellers to certain European countries from UK may need to quarantine on arrival
The government has announced that travellers arriving in England from amber countries who have been fully vaccinated in the USA and Europe (EU Member States except France*, European Free Trade Association countries** and the European microstate countries of Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City) will not have to quarantine when entering England.
* Travellers who have been in France in the 10 days before arrival in England must still quarantine for 10 days after they arrive and take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8, even if you are fully vaccinated.
** Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland
The change will take effect from 4am on Monday 2 August.
Travellers will still be required to take PCR Covid tests before setting off and on the second day after they arrive – the requirement to take a test on day 8 has been removed.
Those vaccinated in the US will also need to provide proof of US residency. Passengers from all countries travelling to the UK will be denied entry unless they have completed a passenger locator form.
We are awaiting announcements from the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland regarding their rules for inbound travellers from the EU and US.
Earlier this month, the US State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both advised against travel to the UK and said that those who insisted on travelling should only do so if double-vaccinated. The stated reason for this guidance was the rising number of cases in the UK.
With the number of cases in the UK now falling, it remains unclear whether the advice to US travellers will change.
At the moment, the US border is closed to travellers from the UK except for US citizens. Again, there is no indication that this is going to change in the immediate future, although the two governments are thought to be mulling the introduction of a travel corridor across the Atlantic.
Cruise controls lifted
The government has also confirmed that international cruise sailings are to restart from England from 2 August 2021, in line with Public Health England guidance. International cruise travel advice will be amended to encourage travellers to understand the risks associated with cruise travel and take personal responsibility for their own safety abroad.
The move follows the close monitoring of epidemiological evidence, gained through the restart of the domestic cruise industry earlier this year.
Some operators are insisting that passengers will only be able to take a cruise if they have received both doses of the NHS Covid-19 vaccination. For example, Saga says: “Our guidance is that all guests should be fully inoculated, which means you must have received both doses and waited for full immunity to take effect. Therefore, we will require all of our guests to have received both doses of the vaccine no later than 14 days prior to departure.”
Find out more about specialist cruise travel insurance.